Lings, Cusks & Tusk
This eel-like looking fish has densely mottled dark grey and white skin. Available wild-caught, it is a bottom-dwelling marine fish found along the southern coast of Australia, from Perth to Port Macquarie including Bass Strait and around Tasmania, close to shore (with juveniles in estuaries on sand and among seagrass), on the inner continental shelf to 60m, mainly in caves and under ledges. It is caught in small quantities, mainly off the south-eastern coast, by Rock Lobster pots, gillnets and Danish seines and is endemic to Australia.
Beardy, Kingclip, Ling.
Ophidiidae (Cusk Eels).
Available year round.
Size and Weight
Typically 700g-2.2kg and 45-75cm, but can grow to 9kg and 120cm.
Assfish, Codfish (Blue Grenadier, Ribaldo, Southern Hake, Southern Rock Cod), Cusks (including Australian Cusk and Chameleon Cusk), Pink Ling, Tusk.
Rarely seen whole, as it is quite an unattractive fish coated in a layer of mucous; usually sold as skinless, boneless fillets and occasionally as trunks (headless), cutlets or steaks.
In cutlets, steaks and fillets, look for white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.
It is more common in Melbourne, with the related Pink Ling more common in Sydney.
Wrap whole fish (gilled and gutted), fillets, cutlets or steaks in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets, cutlets or steaks for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.
Average yield is 45%. Has a mild flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium firm flesh, with dense, large flakes and few bones. The centre bone of cutlets can be removed and a filling placed in the cavity.
Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue, smoke. Thin fillets are best wrapped in foil or banana leaves if baking or barbecuing, to prevent them drying out.
Because of its moistness, it works well in mousseline or minced for fish cakes and fish balls. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs.
Goes Well With
Butter, chilli, citrus, garlic, herbs (dill, parsley, French tarragon, thyme), olive oil.
Angel Shark, Barramundi, Blue-eye Trevalla, Coral Trout, Gemfish.
Chilled and frozen fillets, and frozen trunks, of Pink Ling are imported from New Zealand (where it is called Hoka or Hokarari).
Seafood Pie with Leek, Garlic & Chives
Stir-Fried Ling with Onion, Black Beans & Chilli